No one is hoping for it to become a reality so quickly, but Cup cars could make their debut under the lights Friday at Martinsville Speedway.
Track president Clay Campbell said he has talked with NASCAR about the possibility of flipping on the new LED lighting system at the 0.526-mile oval if inclement weather were to delay Cup qualifying.
“(Friday’s) weather is a little iffy, so if we don’t get on-track activity done during the day, I talked to NASCAR about it, and that’s what the lights are for, so if we’re not done by say 6 o’clock, if we need to go later, we have that option,” Campbell told The Morning Drive in a Thursday morning interview on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. “That means a lot to the fans when they plunk down hard-earned money to see an event. They got a pretty good shot of seeing the whole thing now that we have lights. We don’t have a window of opportunity now that closes at the end of the day.”
The idea for Martinsville’s lights began to germinate after the Nov. 1, 2015 race that was finished at dusk (“We’re in the playoffs and here almost didn’t finish a race because of darkness,” Campbell said. “That’s just unacceptable.”). The track will hold its first race weekend under the lights with its Late Model extravaganza in late September.
Campbell is betting that eventually there will be a NASCAR premier series race under the lights of the track that dates to 1947, but he downplayed a recent column by ESPN.com’s Ryan McGee that NASCAR could move the All-Star Race there.
“I think we’d like to have a night (Cup) race, absolutely,” he said. “This would be the ultimate for a night event whenever it is.
“That talk about the All-Star Race, we’re not lobbying for it, and there have been no discussions whatsoever. It has a home, and that’ll be NASCAR’s decision on where that goes. We don’t have a dog in that hunt. We’d be willing to entertain that.
“But I think the day will come you do see a night race here, and I think it would be fantastic.”
Martinsville held a Wednesday night event for season ticket renewal customers and allowed them to drive their personal cars on the track.
“They loved that,” Campbell said. “We turned the lights on at 7 o’clock and could hear people in the campground cheering and clapping. It was special to hear the reaction.”